A series of small failures

“eternal consequences”
November 23, 2008, 7:07 pm
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As a reminder, I resigned from the Mormon church November 4, 2008. The last straw was their involvement in passing proposition 8 in California.  I sent the letter to the records department via priority mail.  (I’d heard that if you don’t use priority mail with tracking, they will often just return it, in other words, not accept it.)  I waited patiently for a response.  I asked to only be contacted via mail with confirmation that they had done what I asked.

It didn’t take that long. When I opened the letter yesterday (November 22) and found that they totally disregarded my request, I was bemused. Not angry, which is refreshing. Bemused — slightly amused; feeling wry or tolerant amusement. That word is perfect for this occasion.

I resigned. And, to make sure i wasn’t padding their numbers any further, I asked to have my name removed. Mistake? Perhaps alerting them that you have resigned is enough. Perhaps quoting the page of the church handbook that lists instructions on waiving the 30-day period is not necessary. Maybe mentioning the stake president’s role in the process wasn’t necessary. (I didn’t name him, because i didn’t even know who he was until I got their letter.)  

They don’t make this easy. The man who wrote the letter to me, Gregory Dodge, says that this matter has to be handled by local leaders before it can be processed by church employees. Why?  It’s reveals the patriarchal nature of the organization. “I’m sorry, little girl. You obviously must not be thinking clearly.  We’re tattling to your leader daddy, who is going to come give you a spanking.” I wonder what he will do. In Utah County, where there are so many members, the ward boundaries usually encompass your neighborhood. I realized when I heard his name that I know who my bishop is.  He seems cool. He spoke up at our Homeowner’s Association bi-annual meeting a couple of weeks ago, essentially lending a voice of sanity and defending the people who don’t consider our development a retirement community, and who don’t think parking on the street overnight is a vile affront to the other neighbors. I wonder how he will deal with this.  I didn’t include my phone number on the letter. I assume he will pay me a visit.

He may want to initiate a church court against me.  Since I’m no longer a member, it’s sort of weird and ridiculous, but at this point, i’m feeling like i might as well go along for the ride to see what it’s like.

The letter asks me to reconsider, in view of the “eternal consequences” of such an action. I wonder if when the bishop comes, he tells you what is going to happen to you. “You are going to outer darkness,” or “you will never get to have sex in the hereafter, because only those in the celestial kingdom get to do that,” or “you will never see your family again.” Or if they just leave it at that … threatening “eternal consequences.” 

They have produced a simple brochure for people like me. “An Invitation” from the first presidency. Inside, there’s a picture of them. Three white men with varying degrees of hair loss, wearing white shirts, ties, and dark suits. “Come back. Stand with us. Feast at the table laid before you in the church…and strive to follow the Good Shepherd.” They are reaching out to me, inviting me to return and “partake of the happiness you once knew,” promising outstretched arms to welcome, assist and give comfort. 

The church needs me! 

They reach out in a spirit of love and brotherhood inspired by Jesus. This paragraph is, i believe, the crux of the argument. “Our interest and concern are always with the individual man or woman, boy or girl. Our great responsibility is to see that each is ‘remembered and nourished by the good word of God.’ If any have been offended, we are sorry. Our only desire is to cultivate a spirit of mercy and kindness, of understanding and healing. We seek to follow the example of our Lord, who ‘went about doing good.'”

I see no good in the campaign against same sex marriage. Yes, I have been offended. The only way I know how to heal from the anger is to separate myself from the church. I don’t want to go back. I can’t go back and still be who I am. 

I can imagine how hard this must be for some people. To those who think we resigners are a bunch of whiners, I’m just gonna say this once: Leaving is a difficult, emotional process. It’s taken me about 20 years. I envy those who leave quickly without grief. But I can say it has gotten easier.